Parents' Guide to

Trying to Float: Coming of Age in the Chelsea Hotel

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Funny, moving memoir of eccentric childhood in New York.

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This funny, touching memoir of a child raised in an adult world is was written by the author when still a teen (as she still is), and narrated with a tart wit and clever turn of phrase. Trying to Float: Coming of Age in the Chelsea Hotel is told in short, punchy chapters structured as vignettes with recurring characters and themes that showcase Rips as a wry observer of odd adult behavior and her social-climbing peers. Her voice is as distinct as her experiences among some of New York City's most colorfully unconventional eccentrics, and though readers might suspect that she sometimes exaggerates for humor, like a younger David Sedaris, it's all in good fun.

Rips is on shakiest ground when recounting her younger years, when her point of view sounds far too adult to be believably that of a preschooler. Did her 5-year-old self really look at a friend's aunt and think she was "dreaming of a beach in Tahiti with someone other than her husband"? The book works best for young readers when she gets to middle school and the vignettes focus on her efforts to find a place in the social pecking order. While her experiences may be sophisticated and distinctly New York, young readers will find her attempts to navigate the social stream highly relatable.

Book Details

  • Author: Nicolaia Rips
  • Genre: Coming of Age
  • Topics: Friendship, Middle School
  • Book type: Non-Fiction
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: July 12, 2016
  • Number of pages: 272
  • Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: December 13, 2018

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